Rovinj, Croatia is one of those towns where a mere glimpse is enough to convince you to stay forever. Rocky cliffs protect the medieval town from changing what it has been for hundreds of years. Stone buildings stack next to each other on the cobblestone streets creating a maze of beautiful nooks and alleys begging to be explored. Rovinj is full of romance and character with restaurants lining the sea, suspended on rocky cliffs or tucked into small nooks. From the moment we stepped into Rovinj (no cars allowed in the old town) we felt the kindness and generosity of the locals.
After a very intense drive along a detour through the snowy mountains, which added hours to our drive, we were ready to drop off the rental car and walk. Of course we had to create a little drama by accidentally blocking the only road around the city. The police were behind us, when we tried to drive into the town not realizing it wasn’t permitted. As is typical of Croatians, everyone kindly and patiently waited for us to sort out how to turn around and get situated.
In the low season (October-April) Rovinj is a quiet town, most restaurants and shops are closed. Luckily in March things had begun to slowly open so we were lucky enough to have plenty of restaurant choices. Even though it was quite cool most days we were able to sit by the sea and enjoy the delicious Mediteranean cuisine (J. a little more than me since I don’t eat fish or meat). On the cooler days blankets are provided to customers helping the gorgeous Istrian sun keep me warm.
During the high season Rovinj has many activities to keep busy. The boats which fill the bay ferry tourists to local towns, the nearby fjord, dolphin watching sunset cruises and trips to the small island in the middle of the bay. As we found in the rest of Croatia there are immaculatly planned and maintained areas along the sea perfect for swimming, picnicing or just sitting and enjoying the views.
We spent many of our days walking through the streets, climbing the small hill to the chruch at the epicenter of Rovinj, and then resting on park benches watching the gentle waves hit the rocky shore. Immediately we were transformed to the slow and peaceful lifestyle of the locals.
Being in Rovinj for two weeks we had the opportunity to become familiar to the locals, they even remembered our favorite coffee drinks, pizzas and gladly shared their local after dinner liquers with us.
Even though there are no vehicles allowed in the old town it is easy to take day trips by land from Rovinj. The bus station, located just outside of the old town, is busy all year round offering trips to all the local towns in the Istria region. Many days we hopped on the bus or rented a car for the day to travel through the region. We were never disappointed by the incredible beauty of the countryside, the other seaside towns or the history throughout Istria. You can check out my blog post about our day trips here.
As beautiful as Rovinj is the most impactful part of our trip was the incredible kindness and generosity of the locals. On our first night we arrived late due to the weather and didn’t know where to eat. J. asked a waiter in what would become our favorite coffee spot for a recommendation. Instead of pointing the way he grabbed his jacket and walked us over to a restaurant to make sure we found it and were well taken care of. That same waiter, after serving us countless coffee and evening drinks while we played cards in the bar, spotted us leaving at the bus station when it was time to depart. He walked over to make a point to bid us safe travels and wish us well. I was floored.
My favorite story was from the Meditereano Bar. I had been stalking this place for two weeks, walking by everyday to see if it was open. The pictures online had convinced me I had to have a coffee in this beautiful bar. During high season cushions and small, colorful tables are places on top of the rocky cliffs along the sea. It seemed to me to be one of the most perfect places in the world to have a drink. On our second to last day I saw the bar was still not open, so I contacted them on facebook to ask when they would open. Disappointingly it would not be until two days after we departed. I shared my disappointment and my story of stalking them for two weeks. The owner then generously offered to make a coffee for me and set a place for me on the rocks, opening for half an hour just for me! I was floored. Not only was it a great cup of coffee it truly was one of the most exceptional places in the world to have a drink. It is a memory I will treasure forever. So when you find yourself in Rovinj or Istria you MUST stop in, say hello and have a drink. You will never forget it.
This is not only Rovinj but all of Croatia. It is filled with the kindest people, incredible spaces and beautiful scenery. With its close proximity to Italy and Zagreb airport there is no good reason to miss a visit to Rovinj.
Where To Stay:
Where To Eat:
For great local food in an adorable setting we loved La Vela. It is open all year and not touristy at all.
On the water we loved La Puntulina and Stella di Mare.
Where To Get Great Drinks & Pastries:
Mediterraneo has great drinks with amazing views and places to sit.
Mlinar makes an amazing spinach and cheese pastry and a very delicious chocolate pastry filled with Nutella and coconut (I am not a desert person but this is amazing!).